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ITE: Guide to the Learning to teach secondary geography section

This page sets out the content of the Learning to teach secondary geography section. It lists the content from the ITE area of the website mapped against the Department for Education’s Teachers’ Standards 1–8. 

Each section below expands to show the content covered. The links in the left column on each table below go directly to the relevant GA ITE page; the contents of that page are shown in the right column.

ITE page links

Content / Keywords

Good geography teaching: high expectations

Being a geography teacher

What is ‘geography’? Teaching geography today; who studies geography?

Subject knowledge for geography teaching

Subject content knowledge; pedagogic content knowledge (PCK): is a geography degree enough? improve and develop subject knowledge; making the most of it.

Good geography teaching – high expectations

Knowledge; passion for the subject; your rationale; understand geography pedagogy; a good classroom environment; high expectations; teacher as a role model; challenge; geography ‘Inside the Black Box’

Identifying good geography teaching

Effective geography departments; what makes great teaching; observing good geography lessons

 Developing your geography teaching

How to improve teaching; reviewing teaching

Students’ learning in geography
What do new teachers need to know about learningStudents’ learning; learning styles; cognitive science
Geographical learning and memoryWorking and long-term memory;  cognitive load theory; the process of learning; cognitive overload; dual coding; chunking; active engagement; retrieval practice; spaced practice
Making connections for learningSchemas; prior knowledge; Deep and shallow understanding; Generative learning; novice and expert learners; process of understanding
Consolidating geographical learningEngaging; building connections; mastery; misunderstandings and misconceptions
Progression in geographical learningConceptual development; geographical description and explanation; Bloom’s Taxonomy; achievement and progress in geography
MetacognitionWhat it is and how to teach it; metacognitive learners; the metacognitive cycle
Learning theories and geographyBehaviourism; cognitivism and constructivism; social constructivism; learning through language; mastery learning; experiential learning; Bruner; Vygotsky; Piaget; Bloom; Kolb
 Geography 5 to 18
Geography for young peoplePersonal geographies; students as geographers; students’ views
Geography in the primary school

primary curriculum; key stage 2/3 transition; visit to a primary school

Post 16 geography teachingpost-16 education; how different is it?
Teaching strategies for post 16 geographyActive learning; starting points; enquiry; challenge; argumentation; case studies
Subject knowledge
Subject knowledge What is it? Substantive and disciplinary knowledge; core knowledge; what do students know? what should they learn? National Framework for geography.
Teaching subject knowledge  Learning and teaching geography knowledge; locational knowledge; teaching places, concepts, processes, practice, metacognitive knowledge.
Powerful geography knowledgePowerful disciplinary knowledge (PDK); Three Futures scenarios Teaching powerful knowledge; case studies.
Thinking geographicallyWhat does it mean?  The Anthropocene; geographical thinking and school geography.
Geographical concepts
Concepts in geographyWhat is a geographical concept? Their importance; concrete, abstract and substantive concepts; key concepts; organising concepts; analysing concepts.
Teaching geographical conceptsHelping students to learn concepts; Planning for conceptual understanding; Do students understand a concept? Threshold concepts
Concept mapping What is a concept map and why use them? Teaching students to use concepts maps; benefits.
Misconceptions in geographyCommon misconceptions and why they happen; looking for inaccuracies; countering misconceptions; managing misconceptions and avoiding them.
Place and Places
Place in geography The importance of place; ways of thinking about place; A three lamps model; place as a concept; a ‘sense of place’; place and mental maps; a question of scale
Teaching place knowledge Place in the school curriculum; teaching locational knowledge; Place knowledge in the National Curriculum; progression in understanding from year 7 to year 13
Teaching about placesdifferent perspectives; changing places; awe and wonder;  thinking about where students live and exploring the local area.
Teaching distant placesChoosing places to teach; case studies; students’ understanding of distant places; diversity of places; misrepresentation of places; preparing teaching units.
Changing places at A levelWhat place understandings are required? Case studies resources and information.
Geographical PracticeMeaning of geographical practice and menu.
Geographical skillsMeaning of geographical skills and general skills; geographical practice; teaching skills for geographical
Spatial skills, maps and graphicacyMeanings and menu.
Graphicacy and spatial thinkingGraphicacy; diagrams; spatial thinking; developing these skills; digital mapping; critical literacy in maps
Teaching with maps Maps and map skills; types of maps; map drawing; maps from memory; mental maps; affective maps
Ordnance Survey mapsOS map skills; Digimap; teaching mapwork skills; using maps outside the classroom; maps and aerial photographs
Using globes, atlases and world mapsTeaching locational knowledge; learning with globes, atlases and world maps; atlas activities; Google Earth; Map projections
Geospatial technologies (including GIS) What are geospatial technologies? GIS and learning geography; progression in GIS; GIS in enquiries and fieldwork
Literacy and numeracyDfE ITT criteria requirements
What has literacy got to do with geography?Importance of literacy; disciplinary literacy; geographical vocabulary
Speaking and listening in geography  Teacher talk; dialogic pedagogies; developing oracy; quality talk; activities.
Reading in geography  Reading in the geography classroom; for older students; active reading strategies; directed activities related to texts (DARTS).
Writing in geographyDifferent forms; effective writing in geography; writing frames; making notes; styles and genres; providing stimulus; quality of writing; spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG)
Developing extended writingStrategies and common issues; discursive writing; extended writing and assessment.
Numeracy and geographyNumeracy and numbers in geography; data-handling; numeracy for maps, charts and graphs in geography; statistics; numeracy for geography examinations.
Geographical enquiry
What is geographical enquiry?  Why is it enquiry important and why use an enquiry approach. Observing enquiry lessons; suggested research study.
Planning for geographical enquiryFrameworks for planning;  creating a need to know; using data as evidence; making sense; presenting findings; reflecting on learning; assessment within enquiries; examinations; examples of enquiries; planning your own enquiry;

Geographical enquiry: the teacher’s role


Setting up enquiry; an enquiry culture in the classroom; different teacher approaches; supporting learning; observations and research into geographical enquiry; encouraging student reflection.
Using key questions for enquiry Good key questions and big geographical questions; Who decides the questions? question generators.
Fieldwork through enquiry See below
 FieldworkWhy is fieldwork important for geographical learning? learning outside of the classroom; fieldwork in schools; improving fieldwork subject knowledge.
 Planning fieldwork for geographical learning Planning for fieldwork and geographical learning? How good is your subject knowledge for fieldwork? Creative ideas; styles of fieldwork.
 Fieldwork through enquiry An enquiry approach; different models; data collection and analysis; conclusions and evaluation; case studies
 Fieldwork and TechnologyFieldwork preparation; mobile technology ‘in the field’;  smartphone applications; management and analysis of fieldwork data; virtual fieldwork.
AL independent fieldwork investigationReading and guidance
 Fieldwork experiences and field teaching Different types of fieldwork; field teaching; management and risk assessment.
 Fieldwork experience (for ITE students) Practical fieldwork experience and how to make the most of it.
Reading list for fieldwork (download)Fieldwork reading list
Critical thinking and creativity
Thinking through geography   The research behind ‘thinking through geography’; David Leat. managing thinking activities; the importance of debriefing; thinking geography activities.
Critical thinkingImportance of critical thinking; developing students’ critical thinking; activities in geography.
Creativity in geography lessonsTypes of creative activities; the creativity wheel; creativity arts in geography
Decision making, problem solving and mysteries Managing decision making and problem solving; at GCSE;  activities; making animals activity; layered decision making; mysteries.
Argument in geographyUsing argumentation; argumentation frame; argument types; argument maps.
Curriculum and curriculum planning
What is the curriculumDifferent curriculum approaches in schools; who decides? the curriculum?  the national framework for geography.
 Geography curriculum designRationale and curriculum intent; coherence; designing a knowledge-rich curriculum; the place of concepts; Ofsted; interleaving; case studies
 Planning for continuity and progressionContinuity and sequencing; spiral curriculum; planning for reflection.
From intent to implementation: curriculum makingCurriculum making as a creative process; key decisions; a toolkit; GeoCapabilities; curriculum artefacts; assessing the impact; curriculum review.
Curriculum planning for a trainee teachercurriculum understanding; writing a scheme of work.
 Making links with other subjects Interdisciplinary curricula; big issues; skills-based models; teaching another subject.
Using resources in geography teachingAvailable resources; choosing, planning, designing and reviewing; be imaginative!
Using technology in geography teachingDigital technology and teaching; artificial intelligence; access to technology;
Printed materials and textbooksPrint resources; why use textbooks? reviewing geography textbooks.
 Using visual images in geographyUsing photographs; photo interpretation and analysis skills; students in taking or selecting photographs; aerial photographs; remote sensing (satellite) images; cartoons; whiteboards; classroom display.
 Moving imagesWays to use video; predicting with video;
Media literacy and the webEvaluating media and web-based resources; teaching media literacy and criticality; social media; geography in the news; WebQuests.
Geospatial technologies see above
Teaching with maps see above
Teaching thematic geography
Teaching human geographyAn academic perspective; changes; teaching human geography; using models; population and migration; health and disease; settlements and urban geography; economic geography
Values and controversial issuesWhy and what should we teach? values and attitudes; teaching strategies; morally careless/careful teaching; planning topics.
Cultural diversity in geography education Political/policy context; tackling racism; racial literacy; race and diversity in geography teaching; representations; challenging stereotypes; lesson planning.
Teaching physical geographyPhysical geography in the curriculum; accuracy of sources; weather and climate; global ecosystems and biodiversity; landscapes; practical learning; links with science; using speculation;  meeting the challenge of teaching physical geography; resources.
Teaching environmental geographyMenu
Teaching about the environmentThe environment and the school curriculum. teaching about the environment; a complex and challenging topic.; what should geographers be teaching?
Teaching sustainable developmentDifferent ideologies and perceptions; teaching ESD;  world or local issues; peak oil; the limits to growth; students’ understanding of sustainability; resources.
Teaching global warming and climate changePlace of global warming and climate change in the school curriculum; big geographical questions; teaching about climate change; resources.
Teaching futuresTeaching geography for the future; students’ hopes and fears for the future; implementation in the classroom.

Teaching about development and globalisation

Meanings of development and globalisation; development and globalisation in the curriculum; teaching and key concepts; scale, interdependence, development and globalisation; teaching approaches.


Classroom practice
Classroom practice in geography
 Effective Geography Classroom practice   Effective classroom practice; What makes great teaching?  Proxies for Learning; forms of classroom practice; observing the teaching-learning relationship.
 Geography teaching styles   What is teaching style? teacher-centred and student-centred;  novice and expert learners; the participation dimension.
Collaborative learning in geography  What is collaborative learning? The role of the teacher; planning; practicalities of working in groups; strategies for group discussion.
Dialogic teaching and discussion in geographyWhat is dialogic teaching? dialogic talk; managing discussions; classroom debate.

Explicit teaching


Explicit teaching and instructionExplicit teaching; instruction; Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction.
Exposition and explaining   What is exposition and using explanation; constructing a diagram to aid explanation; giving explanations; pitfalls.
Modelling and demonstrationWhat is modelling and how to use it; worked examples; modelling a written outcome; different forms of modelling; case studies.
Questions in the geography classroomTeaching geography for the future; students’ hopes and fears for the future; implementation in the classroom.
Teacher-led questioningQuestions in the classroom; whole-class questioning techniques; making students think; Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce;  higher order questions
Students’ questioning skillsTeaching students to ask good questions; simple questioning; 5Ws; classroom strategies; snowballing, hot seating, development compass rose, intelligent guesswork; asking higher order geographical questions; questioning frameworks; layers of inference.
 Socratic questioningWhat is Socratic questioning and how to use it
Using key questions for enquiryWhy and what should we teach? values and attitudes; teaching strategies; morally careless/careful teaching; planning topics.
PracticeThe I-We-You approach
Retrieval practice How to use; forms of retrieval practice; spaced practice and sequencing; reflecting on effective use.
Independent practice: learning activities for geography classrooms The purpose and how to do it; selecting activities; techniques to engage students; thinking hard; activities for geographical learning; the teacher’s role.
Scaffolding geographical learning What is scaffolding and how does it work? strategies used in geography teaching.
Geography homeworkWhat is good homework? setting homework; how successful is your homework? flipped learning
Mastery learning in geographyWhat is mastery learning? mastery learning in geography.
Enquiry and experiential learningAn overview and menu
Geographical enquiry: the teacher’s rolesee above
Fieldwork experiences and field teachingsee above
Role play and drama in geography Why use role play and drama in geography teaching? planning and managing a role play; drama strategies.
Games and simulations What are they and how to use them; geography examples.
Debriefing in geographyWhat is debriefing and why is it so important? good debriefing.
Decision making, problem solving and mysteries (see Critical thinking and creativity)see above

Teaching geography Lessons


Good geography lessons What makes a geography lesson good? essentials of good geography lessons; teaching good geography lessons.
Planning geography lessons Why is lesson planning important? the planning cycle; planning format; what does the jargon mean?
Lesson aims objectives and content  What is the ‘big picture’; the lesson aim; content; objectives; sharing lesson objectives with students; pre-planning the lesson.
Exploring lesson plans   What to consider in lesson design? lesson planning templates; observing and planning lessons
 Planning the lesson structure   Elements of a lesson; starts; building on  prior knowledge and experiences; instruction; learning activities; plenary; concluding the lesson; presenting the lesson plan; what to avoid? Where is the geography?
Evaluating lessonsReflecting on lessons and the Teachers’ Standards; what to include in a lesson evaluation.


Inclusion and adaptation
Creating an inclusive geography classroom What is inclusion? educational disadvantage; an inclusive classroom;  inclusive fieldwork; an inclusive geography curriculum; listen to students.
Students’ diverse learning needsWhat is SEND? Finding out and understanding the needs of individuals; bilingual learners; disadvantage and underachievement; gender; higher achieving students.
Teaching students with different learning needsTeaching lower attainers, SEND, students who are disadvantaged, underachievers or disaffected; girls and boys; challenging the more able; teaching bilingual students.
Adaptive teachingWhat is adaptive teaching and how to approach it? lesson observations; diagnosing students’ needs; teaching approaches; pre-teaching, pace and scaffolding; the complexities; Planning adaptive teaching.
Working with teaching assistantsWho are teaching assistants?  Working with TAs in your classroom; the best use of a TA.
 Adaptive fieldworkPlanning fieldwork for students with disabilities; higher ability students.


Assessment in geography
 Assessing students’ learning Assessment purposes; what does a new teacher need to know and be able to do; assessment terminology; observing assessment; making assessment effective and manageable?
 Diagnostic assessmentWhat is it? establishing the starting point; diagnostic assessment during lessons; hinge-points and using hinge questions.
 Formative assessment What is formative assessment and AfL? how to use it effectively; questions and assessment; feedback; success criteria and setting good targets; peer and self- assessment
 Peer and self assessment How to use peer and self- assessment; success criteria;  formative peer assessment; self-assessment and its role in self-regulation and metacognition; geography case studies.
 Feedback and marking The purposes of feedback; formative feedback practice; whole-class feedback; students giving feedback to each other; self-checking; written feedback; marking workload and expectations
Planning assessment Assessment and curriculum planning;  an assessment framework for geography; mixed economy of assessments; assessment practice; baseline assessments; summative assessment.
Assessing progress in geography at key stage 3Benchmark expectations; planning assessment; assessing progress.
Geography examinationsWhat do I need to know about examinations and be able to do? current geography examinations; GCSE; A level; fieldwork in examinations; preparing students for examinations; adaptive learning for GCSE; marking and assessing with examination criteria; planning for an examination specification
Assessment data and report writing in geographyThe use of data in schools; published data; ‘Closing the gap’; writing reports; student portfolios.
Wider professional responsibilities
Professional responsibilities and professional development What is professional development; Contribution to the wider life of the school; working with colleagues and parents; your professional development; visiting other schools; professional training programmes; other CPD activities; professional learning communities; reading; engagement with research.
Becoming a reflective geography teacher    What is a reflective teacher and why is it important? reflection in practice; using research and practitioner enquiry.
 Using research evidence about practiceWhy and how to use research evidence; action research in your classroom.
Belonging to the geography communityWhy is a professional community important? How do I link with my geography community? Geographical websites, blogs and Twitter.


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